A Tale of Two Cities

Author Charles Dickens
Vote 7/10
Reviewed on 2020-06-24
Read in English

A French doctor has spent many years imprisoned in the Bastille for a mysterious crime, and is then released, a shadow of his former self. His wife has spent long years trying to obtain his liberation, in vain, until one day she died. A daughter, only 18 years old, travels to Paris from London to take him back with her in the United Kingdom.

In London, a French man is on trial on suspicion of being a spy, plotting against the Monarchy. One of his defensors also happens to have a striking resemblance with him.

On the background, the rising injustice in France is about to leave place to the French Revolution.

It is in this setting that the tale of two cities (the cities being London and Paris) is recounted. Of the few books I’ve read by this great author, this is not my favorite. Nonetheless, it is a pleasure to read and to discover the plot. Dickens is a master of inserting elements since the first pages that turn out to be key to the development of the story later on. The beginning is tough because of the many obsolete or somehow contrived expressions used1, but I’ve noticed this in other works as well – after a while, they seem to become less common and leave place to the action.


1I’ve found a quite interesting project at Stanford that helps putting things in context.